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Our Mission

To develop charitable, educational and benevolent activities dedicated to the enrichment, development, and vitality of communities, natural resources and trail systems in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula through world-class events, creating informational and educational opportunities, encouraging national recognition, specifically with respect to advancing national and international sled dog sports including sled dog racing and an understanding of the historic role of sled dogs in a natural environment.

posted on 9/23/2012 10:31 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

What Is CopperDog?

Hey! Let’s organize a sled dog race!

That’s what a small group of people said in 2009, and from that initial idea the CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 sled dog races were born.

Both races usually run the first weekend in March. The CopperDog 150 features teams of ten dogs and covers 150 miles in three days, while the CopperDog 40 features teams of six dogs and covers approximately forty miles in one day. The CopperDog 150 caps at thirty teams and the CopperDog 40 caps at fifteen teams. Which means … the first weekend in March finds 350+ dogs racing through Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

The CopperDog 150 and CopperDog 40 are organized by CopperDog, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization located in Calumet, Michigan, a small town in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula – a narrow finger of land on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that juts into the middle of Lake Superior.  With an average annual snowfall of 241 inches it’s the perfect place for … well, a sled dog race.

Since its beginning the CopperDog races have attracted mushers from around the world. While many mushers come from the Midwest, each race usually has several Canadian mushers competing – and in 2011 and 2012 a musher from South Africa competed.

CopperDog is definitely a labor of love. It is an entirely volunteer operation, with more than 500 volunteers helping to put the race on. Local residents help mushers with their dogs, provide housing, and oversee trail crossings. Local police and fire departments volunteer their time to man all highway crossings and ensure the safety of all volunteers and participants. On its business end, CopperDog, Inc. is run by an unpaid volunteer board of directors.

CopperDog is more than just two sled dog races. In addition to promoting community vitality through sled dog racing, CopperDog strives to provide education on the history and sport of sled dog racing. Numerous public events – such as classroom visits, volunteer training, “Meet the Dogs” events, and free sled dog rides - are held throughout the year.

CopperDog is always looking for new volunteers. If you’d like to work with a great group of people and be part of one of the MOST FUN winter events you’ll ever see, please contact us. We can’t do it without you!

posted on 9/23/2012 9:38 PM by Lesley DuTemple | permalink | Back to Top

Race Dates through 2020

The CopperDog Board of Directors pleased to announce official race dates from 2017 through 2020, selected in collaboration with the UPSDA (UP200 & Midnight Run).

Official Race Dates:

  • 2017: March 3 — 5
  • 2018: March 2 — 4
  • 2019: March 1 — 3
  • 2020: February 28 — March 1
posted on 4/28/2014 6:45 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Race Director - Meredith LaBeau

past Asst. Race Director, Race Director

Meredith LaBeau is the Process Engineering Manager with Calumet Electronics Corp., a leader in the manufacturing of high-performance printed circuit boards (PCBs). Meredith earned her PhD from Michigan Technological University researching future impacts of phosphorus on surface water quality in the Great Lakes Basin. Currently, she has been living in the Houghton/Hancock area for eight years with her husband Mike and daughter Cyra.

In 2011, Meredith became involved in the CopperDog 150 through a friend that played an active role in sponsorship and banners.  Meredith has always loved dogs, as her house door says “Every dog has his day (English)”, therefore volunteering with the Copperdog 150 was a natural fit.

Meredith stepped up her contributions in 2011/2012 taking on the duties of Asst. Race Director taking very active roles in key areas of planning the 2012 race.  The combination of Meredith's insight, drive, and focus on doing "the right thing" made her a perfect candidate for Race Director going into 2013/2014 season.  In August, 2013 Meredith was voted into the Race Director position for the 2014 race. In 2015 Meredith took a more behind-the-scenes role management many of the technical aspects of planning race weekend. In 2016, Meredith came back on as race director.

Meredith is in the Race Director seat for the 2017 race, but this will likely be her last year taking on a lead role with CopperDog. After many years of contributing to the success of CopperDog, she has earned some time off which she will use to focus on growing Calumet Electronics and continuing adventures with her family. 

Meredith avidly enjoys biking, running, hiking, and camping in the Keweenaw Peninsula and beyond.

posted on 2/14/2016 8:23 AM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Race Mashall - Nelson-Curtice

Sharon Nelson-Curtice has been involved in the world of sled dogs for over 20 years and has owned her own dogs for the past 17 years.  Sharon has experienced great success running short-mid to mid-distances races in the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota regions.  

As a young girl, Sharon's dream was to have her own sled dog kennel and she made her first steps towards that dream by getting involved with the first UP 200 race.  To her delight, Sharon became involved with a sled dog kennel and began racing teams.  Three years after starting her involvement with the UP 200 and pulling her husband Pete into the sport, she own her own kennel, her dream had come true.

Sharon went on to have a very competitive kennel taking her share of first place prizes competing in the Tahquamenon, Midnight Run, Apostle Islands and Pellston Icebox.  She also placed 2nd in the Beargrease 150, 5th in the UP 200, and had many other top finishes in her carrier.  Although Sharon is no longer racing competitively, she still keeps a handful of dogs that keep her life and her children busy.  Sharon works as a physical therapist assistant and home schools her three children.

Sharon was invited by the CopperDog 150 in 2009 to be a Race Judge at their first race and was invited back in 2010. Sharon serves double duty at the CopperDog 150, working as both race judge and teacher, sharing her knowledge, experience and insight with CopperDog 150 planners, officials, and volunteers.  Sharon's warm and friendly personality, keen insight, and calming disposition during hectic situations makes Sharon an ideal Race Judge for the CopperDog 150.

Sharon looks forward each year to judging at the CopperDog 150, spending time with good friends, and working for a great, fun race organization.

posted on 2/1/2012 12:00 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Veterinarian - Jean Wilcox, DVM

Jean Wilcox is a '94 graduate of Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. She has a practice in Gwinn, MI. 

She has been involved in the UP sled dog races as a vet since 1995 and is excited to be involved in the CopperDog 150 race again this year...she really likes the green parka! 

She tries to follow Dr. Tom around to various races like the Tahquamenon, IronLine, Beargrease, UP200 and the CopperDog.

Her interests beyond vet work include her biking, beading, horses, bird hunting with her spectacular dogs and wilderness trips to canoe and camp with her husband, Burt and appropriate critters when allowed.

posted on 11/30/2011 12:43 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Veterinarian - Tom Gustafson, DVM, CVSMT

Tom is a co-owner of the Thompson Veterinary Clinic in Manistique, MI since 1994. He grew up in Escanaba and graduated from the Escanaba Area High School. Tom received his DVM degree from Michigan State University during the latter part of the 20th century. In 2002, he completed training and received certification in Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, WI. and incorporates animal chiropractic into his mixed animal practice.Tom is also presently an instructor at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center.

Tom became interested in sled dog medicine and races in 1994. Since then he has been involved as a race veterinarian in various capacities. Races he has been involved with include the CopperDog 150, UP 200 and Midnight Run, Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, Seney 300, John Beargrease, Great Trails Sled Dog Race, and GM Classic. Tom is also a member of the ISDVMA.

On the home front, Tom is kept busy with 4 kids and their activities, and numerous critters.His hobbies include cross country skiing, bicycling, and building stuff.

posted on 11/30/2011 12:45 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Race Veterinarian - Phil Topham, DVM

Dr Phil Topham (pictured here with Dr. Kathy Topham) is a graduate of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, currently residing in Mantua Ohio. He is the sole proprietor of Phillip Topham Veterinary Services, providing relief veterinary services to northeast Ohio as well as 11 other states. When not traveling for work, he enjoys running, kayaking, and dabbling in Frisbee with the family dogs. Dr Topham was first drawn to sled dog racing while living in Duluth MN in the late 1990's. Dr Topham is a member of ISDVMA, and has worked many races in the upper Midwest, including Beargrease Marathon, UP200 and Midnight Run, Gichigammi Express, Gunflint Mailrun, and Race To The Sky. He is looking forward to his first CopperDog.

posted on 1/23/2017 8:15 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Race Veterinarian - Kathy Topham, DVM

Dr Kathy Topham is also an NCSU graduate, and resides in Mantua OH, with the other veterinarian of the same last name, and their 5 dogs and 2 cats. She is co-owner of Pawsitive Results Animal Rehabilitation Center, a practice focused solely on sports medicine and rehabilitation. When not working, Dr Topham enjoys training and competing in dog agility and frisbee with the younger dogs in the house. Dr Topham is a member of ISDVMA, and has worked the Beargrease, UP209 and Midnight Run, Gichigammi Express, Gunflint Mailrun, Grand Portage Passage, and Race To The Sky. This will be her first CopperDog race.

posted on 1/23/2017 8:21 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Race Veterinarian - Amanda Doran, DVM

posted on 1/31/2017 3:12 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Veterinary Technician - Meghan Marks, CVT, ACC/VLCC/ABMC

Meghan Marks has been involved with Sled dogs since 2000, that is 17 years of volunteering at races! After many trips to Alaska and Canada to help care for dogs during races and working on research projects, she is more content to stay closer to home these days. It has been fin for her to watch the new races in the last 5 to 6 years as they continue to grow in the Midwest, including the IronLine and CopperDog. She participates in many sled dog races including the Ironline, the UP200, and of course Copperdog.

When Meghan is not playing in the snow, you can find her kayaking. Luckily she has friends who are willing to start as soon as the ice melts and go until they freeze. She suggests that one might be suprised to find out how much gear can actually be shared between the two sports. Meghan has 2 cats and 2 sassy terriers, one with three legs and one naked, that keep her in line.

My favorite part of any race, besides helping dogs finish happy and healthy, is seeing my sled dog family, old friends, making new friends and getting lots of HUGS.

posted on 2/11/2012 11:35 AM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Veterinary Technician - Kris Ausland

Kris has been involved with sled dog racing since 2009, and this will be her 4th year as a member of the CopperDog Veterinary Team. She holds an Associate of Veterinary Technology degree and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Kris is an Iraqi Freedom Veteran and retired from the Minnesota Air National Guard after serving for 21 years. Her Veterinary experience includes shelter medicine, working on a mobile surgical unit, emergency medicine, small animal practice, as well as rural area veterinary trips to help the less fortunate. Kris works as a Certified Veterinary Technician at the Duluth Veterinary Hospital. Her race experience includes the UP200/Midnight Run, John Beargrease Sleddog Marathon, CopperDog150, Apostle Islands, and Gichigami Express sled dog races. She has also run teams in the Ely WolkTrack Classic and the Mid-Minnesota races.  Kris lives in Esko, Minnesota with her two teen-age daughters, a horse, 1 dog, 3 cats and a ferret.

posted on 1/17/2013 7:48 AM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Veterinary Technician - Holly Egerer

posted on 1/31/2017 3:14 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Veterinary Student - Alexandra Ripperger

Alexandra Ripperger is a third year veterinary student at the University of Minnesota. This is her third year shadowing the vets at the CopperDog 150. Alex enjoys the CopperDog race because she learns tons from the incredibly knowledgeable vet team and enjoys the welcoming community in Calumet. Alex plans on being a small animal and exotics veterinarian after graduation.

posted on 1/23/2017 8:31 PM by Meredith LaBeau | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Timer - H.A. "Kiko" de Melo e Silva

Kiko only saw snow for the first time as a teenager. Dog sled racing?!? Think Disney movies.

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Kiko first arrived in the United States at age 15 in 1987 and the Copper Country in 1990 to attend Michigan Technological University… twice.  Since then, the Copper Country has been home to this research engineer working for the department of civil & environmental engineering at his Alma matter.

A strongly believer in community involvement, hard-work, and parties, volunteering for the first CopperDog 150 was a no-brainer (being gently led to help with race timing however was a “no-brains”). But taking ownership and having a “whether you think you can or you can't, you're right” attitude, the first race was a feat and the second race better yet.

Kiko has contributed greatly to the integrity and professionalism of CopperDog by continually developing and evolving the philosophy and technology by official race timing.  Kiko designed and continues to develop a timing application that leverages the latest Google Sheets technologies to accurately record start and finish times, calculate statistics and standings instantly, and communicate all data to a central database in real-time for officials and fans. Kiko's accomplishments with race timing are nothing short of amazing.

He has lived with dogs, cats, cows, horses, chickens, pigs, birds, some fish, an iguana, and a sheep. He is also good with numbers, pointing, and he can yell really loud. Kiko is strongly committed to making this regional event involving many peoples, cultures, and communities a sustainable success – he does not take his participation as Chief Timer and the race’s positive impact on local people and places lightly. To Kiko, a hopeless romantic, the CopperDog 150 brings the Copper Country alive as if it were a time machine going back to the thriving copper mining days of over 100 years ago.

Kiko lives with his wife and two kids in Calumet and the rest is history…or at least lots of snow. Look for him in his orange mining hat, light and all. Portuguese spoken.

posted on 10/13/2014 7:53 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Communications - Bill LaBell

Bill moved to the small U.P. town of Allouez from Southeast Michigan in 1992. He is the owner / mechanic of Quincy Hill Auto Repair. He has been a amateur radio operator (Ham) since 2008.

On most Sundays in the summer time he can be found at the Houghton County Historical Society running their 1915 Steam Locomotive.  He is also the Vice President/Treasurer of the Keweenaw County Repeater Association, Inc..

He has been with the CopperDog since its first year, where he worked radio at a road crossing and then the finish. The second year he assisted at net control and then ran it for the 2012 and 2013 races. Net control is the communications center and also where social media updates take place during the race.

For the 2014 race, his responsibilities will include running net control, recruiting and assigning radio volunteers. Radio operators consist of amateur radio operators (Hams) and local firemen.  A radio operator's responsibilities are to report crossing times and most important to relay all safety communications.

posted on 12/17/2012 3:10 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Contact Us

CopperDog, Inc.
P.O. Box 384
Calumet, MI 49913
MICS# 48044

Meredith LaBeau
Race Director

John Kmetz
Community Director

Renee Cunningham
Resource Director

Todd Brassard
Race Planning

Jeff Foss
Trail Director

Bethanne Riffer
Volunteer Director

Board of Directors

Brad King, Chair

Walt Kiiskila, Treasurer

Renee Cunningham, Secretary

Meredith LaBeau, Board Member

Doug Harrer, Board Member

Bethanne Riffer, Board Member

Dianne St. Amour, Board Member

Ken Stigers, Board Member

Rob Greenhoe, Board Member

Copyright (C) 2010-2013 Brassard Media. All rights reserved.